Sunday, June 18, 2017

#ParkTV As I See Things (One)

Living the way I do —as if I am in a Currier and Ives Christmas card— has been a wonderful experience for fourteen years. 

It has also been challenging. More so now than ever before.

My house overlooks the park in the center of a small town in Vermont along Route 100, not anywhere near a city, a strip mall, or even a suburb for that matter. And I don’t mind. In point of fact, I quite like it.

Here’s why I chose this life:
The town is in the “Heart of the Green Mountains”
Everywhere I look there’s natural beauty
My kids walk to school safely and they know the crossing guard by name (she’s also the Town Clerk)
It’s quiet
Supporting local small businesses is a way of life


I heard a local man say once and I quote, “If you can’t get it here, well then you probably don’t need it.” He’s right. We have everything we need right here (well, except underwear, but that’s another blog for another time.)

This place is my world. Besides living here with my family, I am emotionally invested. I teach here, shop here, play here, read here, write here, volunteer my time here, etc. and this place has been worth my energy. Rochester, VT functions as it has since 1781 without anyone from the outside telling us what to do or utilizing punitive governance against our own best interests, deciding for us.

UNTIL NOW.

The way I see it, the state is punishing all rural towns who do not comply with legislation created to protect us from ourselves. Wait. What? Seriously. AND they are masking it to look like they are supporting our rural way of life.

We may be a bit of a distance from the “rest of the world” but we have each other to cling to. It keeps us warm. Plowed. Mowed. Fed. Educated. And most of all, above everything else, we have local control.  

Not anymore.

I’ll come right out and say it: the lifestyle I have chosen in rural Vermont is on life support and I am powerless to save it.

I am powerless to stop what Act 46 has set into motion. I won’t go into what Act 46 is, but feel free to click the link to educate yourself.

Here is a part of the law I can get behind:
“Vermont recognizes the important role that a small school plays in the social and educational fabrics of its community.” Act 46

However, the next sentence continues and I respectfully DISAGREE: “It is not the State’s intent to close its small schools, but rather to ensure that those school have the opportunity to enjoy the expanded educational opportunities and economies of scale that are available to schools within larger, more flexible governance models.” Act 46

Here is my translation:
“We at the state level see how CHARMING it is that you shop at your local hardware store and buy Vermont coffee at your local cafe owned by your neighbors.”

However it goes on to say:
“We do not intend to destroy your small towns, but rather we want you to be able to buy nails and screws at Home Depot or coffee at Starbucks because of the economy of scale that exists when giant box stores can buy things in bulk.”

I’ve been through this before and I have seen how the other side lives. I have taught large groups of children. When I moved to VT from AZ, I went from teaching (rather air-traffic controlling) 30-35 kids to TEACHING 12 kids.

I was the final teacher to teach in a 209 year old two-room schoolhouse In Hancock: (The Story NPR ) when Act 68 forced that closure. And before that, Act 60 was the state’s attempt to solve everyone’s problems for them.

Frankly, our legislature has forced our beautiful state into hospice care. The “Study Committee” that was formed by our school district under the state’s direction and guidance is acting as palliative care for the townspeople.

My town that has managed to maintain its quintessential, pastoral and independent way of life is now being coerced and punished for being quintessential, pastoral and independent. I predict that in time we will be like every other city, suburb, strip mall and so forth because it is cheaper.  

I am voting NO on Tuesday for the School Merger and I stand on my platform of knowledge and experience and openly share with you. Is our way of life worth it? We need other options besides Model One but most importantly, WE need to decide. Not the WRVSU (Supervisory Union) or the legislature.

US. The people of Rochester

2 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Thanks Alecia for reading this and keeping a tiny piece of Rochester in your heart. Once you have Rochester as a part of who you are, it is impossible to let it go.

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